The last two years have been eventful — to say the least — for Pavlina Moskalyk-Solo.
The Czech-born producer-writer, who’d moved to Los Angeles in 1990 after attending film school in Prague, had to take over the production of the next season of Czech blockbuster skein “Cetnicke humoresky” when her father, show’s helmer Antonin Moskalyk, was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Solo (her professional name) and her father had developed the show in 1997, with Solo, Milos Fedas and Moskalyk co-writing. The high-profile police-caper skein, which is set in the 1930s in a Czech crime unit that deals with everything from stolen chickens and pornography to murder and espionage, quickly turned into a local television phenomenon for pubcaster Czech TV.
Primetime reruns still capture a 40% audience share. The uniforms worn by the series’ policemen have become popular dress-up garb for children.
“What makes the series so unusual and so popular, I suppose, is that every episode is different and it’s very character driven,” Solo says. “One episode is action-oriented, another one more sweet and gentle. The humor tends to be dark, and there are just a lot of different facets and layers to the series.” She likens the tone of “Cetnicke humoresky” to “Fargo” or “Six Feet Under.”
What also makes the skein so unusual is the scope of the production. Every episode is feature length, and each season comprises 13 episodes. For the new season, which will preem Aug. 31, Solo employed 900 thesps, 7,500 extras, 580 locations, 450 cars and 8,500 costumes in addition to period trains, airplanes and countless props.
When Solo got the call about her father’s illness in 2005, she quickly had to make the decision to take over the production of the new season together with Fedas. This meant that for the last two years, she has been commuting between her husband and two daughters in Los Angeles and her work as a producer in Prague. “It’s like leading two separate lives,” she says.
Solo is married to Endeavor agent Matt Solo. So while Los Angeles and Prague might be two very different worlds, she insists: “I think I’d barely be able to run this show without my L.A. experience. If I didn’t know what I learned in L.A., I don’t think I’d be able to manage a production of this scale.”
Given the enormous success of “Cetnicke humoresky,” expectations for the new season run high. But because it is once again written by Solo and Fedas, and because the main cast remains the same, Solo is confident that it will once again hit a nerve with the public.
“We’ll still have the same humor and little dramas, but there’s also going to be more politics because the times in which the series’ characters live become more political,” says Solo, adding that the last episode of the new season will be set against the 1938 Munich conference when Hitler, Mussolini and the U.K. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain decided to erase the Czechoslovak Republic from the European map.
The hope is that Czech auds will find this as funny as the previous episodes.